Dear Inaccessible Church,
I believe in separation of church and state. I assume most of my readers believe in separation of church and state. As conservatives, we are big promotors against big government and how we do not want them to infringe on our individual rights as citizens.
The ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) was established by the government to provide equal opportunities for those with disabilities. I, for one, am SO thankful!! I am thankful when a door is wide enough that I can get into a building with my family. I am thankful that parking spaces are designated for me so that I can drive myself to a store, get in and out with enough space to get my chair in and out, and not have to have help! I am thankful that I can get in a restroom stall so I won’t have an accident and have to go home to clean up. Have you ever had an accident because you could not physically get into a restroom? I have and it is horrible! I am thankful for ramps. Oh how I am thankful for ramps!!! Do you know how discouraging just a step or two can be?!! I am thankful that apartments, hotels and vacation rentals have options for me should I desire one.
I am thankful for churches where I can go and worship with my family. Oh wait. That is very limited. You see, because of separation of church and state, churches are not required to follow the ADA laws.
I am okay with the government not telling churches what to do. I am NOT okay with churches even needing this post!
Why should churches be inaccessible? I agree that churches should not be forced. I think churches should be leading the way! We are not! We are way behind and it is a crying shame that the government is carrying out the work of Christ more than we are.
I recently was a special guest at a church that is building a whole new wing and remodel of their facilities. The Pastor was giving me the tour and he was showing me where the elevator was going to be. It has cost his church a lot of money and hassle because of fire codes, but he was beaming with joy telling me how he wanted that elevator so that “whosoever will may come”! Do you know what self-control it took to not grab that man and hug him over and over? I will not attend that church. It is in another state, but you better believe he is a poster child to what other churches should follow.
I know of churches who have added ramps to their platforms, remodeled bathrooms, built ramps into the building, and even torn out the side of a basement wall to make a new entrance. May God bless them! I know of other churches, who even have members who are disabled, who have not made their church accessible because they had the scapegoat of not having to follow ADA. Shame on them! You may say, “But we don’t have any members who are disabled.” That is a point worth considering then isn’t it? Maybe they cannot attend your church. That is sad.
We often quote in our churches Luke 14:23, “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” We are all about the house being filled! I challenge you to back up and read the context. Read verse 21 which says, “Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.” 75% of those the master said to bring in and fill the house had disabilities! Why do we shout the one verse and ignore the other? Does your church membership have 75% disabled?
I love the story in Mark 2 where the four friends wanted to bring their paralyzed friend to Jesus. It was announced that Jesus was in the house! They wanted their friend to meet Jesus!! One problem though. Their friend could not get in the house! So,
they took out the roof!
What awesome friends desperate to help their disabled friend to Jesus.
Pastor, imagine becoming paralyzed tomorrow. Could you attend all of your church functions? Could you use your restrooms? Could you even get in your building? Could you preach your sermon from the platform? I assure you that is takes a LOT of courage to be carried around by others and it is not fun. Every now in then it is fine, but on a regular basis you would not do it. Do you think a visitor who knows no one in your congregation wants to be carried or lifted by them? This doesn’t even address power chairs or high level injuries that cannot be lifted.
Choir member, deacon, worship leader, teacher….what about you? Could you fulfill the ministries God has laid on your heart if your legs were taken away tomorrow? One pastors wife I know was in a chair for 3 months because of a bad broken leg. She recently sent me the blue prints to the new platform design which includes a ramp. She and her husband understood what it felt like to not be able to be involved like she had been before and they took action that no one else ever had to feel that way. Good for them! If you are not in church leadership, then be a roof mover! Be a future friend to all who come later because you led the way in your church to make it accessible for all.
I believe Jesus reached out to the disabled because a disability itself is humbling. It knocks out a lot of pride that the able-bodied world still carries around. That is their disability because it hinders their relationship with Christ. Many times, an individual with a disability have the biggest servants hearts. They know what it is like to have to be served and they want to give back. Is your church an outlet for them, or one more obstacle they have to overcome?
Personal responsibility says that I can do right without having to be made to do it by someone else. Show the world what Jesus showed them. He showed society that the disabled were humans first and He reached their hearts and touched their lives. Follow His example. That is what the church is supposed to do anyway. I beg. I plead. I will say this till my dying day. Churches – take the lead!
We can sit back and let someone else do it, or we can be the one to start making noise for change. I will make noise for those who cannot and I pray that you will join me. It is never too late to do right. Start budgeting, start planning, start contacting me for ideas or plans, start an accessibility committee in your church…..something! Just start!
Luke 14 has one more section that I love. Verses 13-14 say, “But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee:for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.”
Here is a promised blessing of God. Are you missing a blessing? Let’s be the change that needs to be made and God will bless us for it!